Bioenergy has no future

Aug 21, 2012

A serious setback for the climate and energy politics of the German government and the EU. In their current statement a working group of more than 20 expert scientists from the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina have come to the conclusion that “in quantitative terms, bioenergy plays a minor role in the transition to renewable, sustainable energy sources in Germany at the present time and probably in the future.”.

Among the reasons given are rising greenhouse gas emissions, the large scale land development required, the nutrient contamination of soil and water and the competition of energy crops with food production. In addition, it would enable Germany to outsource its resource problems. Because increasingly more of the necessary resources are imported from overseas.

Whether it´s the Argentinian biofuel derived from soy or the Indonesian palm oil, as much as ethanol derived from Brazilian sugar-cane, the rainforests go up in flames to make space for the production of agrofuels in monocultures.Moreover Bioenergy competes with food production. Arable land is stressed and therefore the conflict around tank versus plate is worsened.

The researchers call on the government in Berlin to revise the energy politics in Brussels. The Renewable Energy guideline of the EU proposes that 10 percent of motor fuels should be replaced by agrofuels derived from biomass until 2020. The German government wants to triple the percentage of biomass in the national energy supply until 2050 (from a current 8 percent to 23 percent). The scientists however recommend to rather save energy and improve energy efficiency.

For the duration of one year the researchers analysed the impacts of bioenergy on environment and climate. The results and recommendations are available as a 25-page short version. Here you will find the complete 124-page statement “Bioenergy, Chances and Limits”.